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Hip Fracture


What is a hip fracture?

A hip fracture is a break in the upper part of your femur (thigh bone). The upper part of your femur includes the femoral head and the femoral neck. A hip fracture is often caused by a fall or injury on the side of your hip.

Bones of the Pelvis

What increases my risk for a hip fracture?

Medical conditions such as osteoporosis can weaken your bones and increase your risk for a hip fracture. Your risk increases as you get older and bone mass decreases . Elderly people are at increased risk for a hip fracture because of balance problems, loss of vision, or other diseases.

What are the signs and symptoms of a hip fracture?

  • Pain in your upper thigh, groin, or buttock
  • Pain when you flex or rotate your hip
  • Difficulty or inability to place weight on your leg and walk
  • One leg looks shorter than the other

How is a hip fracture diagnosed?

X-rays, an MRI, or CT of your hip and femur may show a fracture. You may be given contrast liquid to help the bones show up better. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.

How is a hip fracture treated?

  • Medicines:
    • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
    • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask how to take this medicine safely.
    • Blood thinners help prevent blood clots. Examples of blood thinners include heparin and warfarin. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. The following are general safety guidelines to follow while you are taking a blood thinner:
      • Watch for bleeding and bruising while you take blood thinners. Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. Use a soft washcloth on your skin, and a soft toothbrush to brush your teeth. This can keep your skin and gums from bleeding. If you shave, use an electric shaver. Do not play contact sports.
      • Tell your dentist and other healthcare providers that you take anticoagulants. Wear a bracelet or necklace that says you take this medicine.
      • Do not start or stop any medicines unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Many medicines cannot be used with blood thinners.
      • Tell your healthcare provider right away if you forget to take the medicine, or if you take too much.
      • Warfarin is a blood thinner that you may need to take. The following are things you should be aware of if you take warfarin.
        • Foods and medicines can affect the amount of warfarin in your blood. Do not make major changes to your diet while you take warfarin. Warfarin works best when you eat about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and certain other foods. Ask for more information about what to eat when you are taking warfarin.
        • You will need to see your healthcare provider for follow-up visits when you are on warfarin. You will need regular blood tests. These tests are used to decide how much medicine you need.
  • Surgery is usually needed. The type of surgery you need depends on the type of fracture you have. The broken parts of your femur may be put back together with metal hardware. All or part of your hip joint may need to be replaced.

What can I do to prevent falls?

  • Get regular exercise. Include exercises that strengthen your legs and improve your balance. Ask about the best exercise plan for you.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about all of the medicines you take. Some medicines can cause dizziness or drowsiness and increase your risk for falls.
  • Have your vision checked regularly. Your vision may worsen over time and increase your risk for falls.
  • Use walking devices , such as canes or walkers, if you have trouble keeping your balance.
  • Make your home safe:
    • Improve the lighting in your home so that you can see where you are walking better.
    • Add grab bars to the inside and outside of your tub or shower and next to the toilet.
    • Add railings to both sides of your stairways.
    • Remove throw rugs and other objects that can cause you to trip and fall.

What can I do to manage my hip fracture?

  • Eat foods that are high in calcium and vitamin D. Your healthcare provider may tell you to eat more dairy products, such as milk and cheese, for calcium. Spinach, salmon, and dried beans are also good sources of calcium. Cereal, bread, and orange juice may be fortified with vitamin D. You also get vitamin D from exposure to sunlight. Your healthcare provider may also suggest a calcium or vitamin D supplement. Do not take supplements unless directed.
  • Rest as directed. You may need a brace or pillow between your legs while your fracture heals.
  • Go to physical therapy as directed. A physical therapist will teach you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain during recovery.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Your leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
  • You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.
  • You cough up blood.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have severe pain, even after you take pain medicine.
  • Your legs are numb.
  • You cannot move your leg or foot.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a fever.
  • You have a blister or open sore.
  • You have a sore that is red, swollen, or draining pus.
  • You have increased pain, numbness, tingling, or leg swelling.
  • You have worsening function or deformity.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.